Can We Fix It?

The other night, I went to a friend’s house to watch an MMA fight on Pay-Per-View.  The entire fight card was packed with great matchups, rivalries, hype, and of course a bit of trash-talk.  When all was said and done, everyone who was favored to win came out victorious, so there were no big surprises, but some of the fights got bloody, some ended in close decisions, and a few ended in serious knockouts.  Before I geared up for the chilly 45-minute motorcycle ride home, we agreed that it was a great night of action.

This morning I thanked my friend for having me over and then commented that I thought the fights were great.  He paused for a minute and said he wasn’t so sure.  I was a bit confused – what had changed his mind?  “That main event was fixed,” he said with a look of uncertainty.  His opinion was that the victor hadn’t hit the contender hard enough to knock him out, and that the contender had shown throughout other fights that he was capable of sustaining much more punishment than that which had ended the contest.

I’m less skeptical than he is about the fight we had both witnessed, but out of curiosity, I turned to the most vaunted source of absolute truth I could think of: the Internet.  After a quick half-hearted web search, it became abundantly clear that my friend was hardly the only disbelieving spectator.  But on closer look, it seems that each fight on the card had legions of doubters with regard to its legitimacy, and upon further digging, it appears that a search on any MMA fight card displays mountains of results full of “this was fixed!” claims.

Throughout history, simple pride has led hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – of underdogs to the finality of their lives.  Warriors facing certain death kissed their families goodbye and marched onto battlefields to fall with honor.  Honor used to be everything to a man.  Disgrace was the ultimate failure.  Entering into a battle, a man felt he owed it to himself, his family, his friends, his town, or his country to give 100% of himself, even in the face of defeat.

I don’t believe the fights I watched were fixed, but there is no denying that times have changed.  Greed has supplanted honor in many cases, so a promise of a big payday sometimes outweighs the satisfaction of an honorable showing.  Whether it’s a basketball player trying to cover the spread or a cage fighter trying to end a fight in a certain manner or in a particular amount of time, affecting the outcome of a contest in any way other than through a genuine drive to win is a discouraging phenomenon.

Kudos to all combatants, whether in war or in sport, who are compelled to compete in the most honorable ways possible.  A win isn’t a win unless you earn it.

-J

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~ by hamiltonjacobs on October 15, 2012.

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